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Carly’s Corner Aug 2019

I have joined the long defeat, that falling set in motion, and all my strength and energy are raindrops in the ocean. So conditioned for the win, to share in victor’s stories. But in the place of ambition’s din, I’ve heard of other glories. I pray for an idea and a way I cannot see. It’s too heavy to carry and impossible to leave. I can’t just fight when I think I’ll win, that’s the end of all belief, and nothing has provoked it more than a possible defeat. I pray for an idea and a way I cannot see. It’s too heavy to carry and impossible to leave. We walk a while, we sit and rest. We lay it on the altar. I won’t pretend to know what’s next but what I have I’ve offered. - Sarah Groves This song has been my calling card since I was in college at Concord… but now more than ever I am thankful for this woman who so eloquently expresses the longings of my heart. Starting in February, I joined the long defeat here at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. For the last six months, I have been working here as a volunteer physician in the Emergency Department. I have been able to do that because of my Global Health Fellowship in Columbia, SC. Some days, when I return from work the evidence of that long defeat is written on my face. It is hard to work here. I love it. Yet I hate it. I know that I am fighting the battle I was called to fight. However, I also watch people die of preventable causes. I weigh survivability before I decide to get a scan. I just don’t have access to what some might consider the most basic of medical diagnostics. Some days, it feels like I’m fighting this battle with one hand tied behind my back. During patient rounds the other day, the HIV testing team reported their numbers of newly diagnosed patients in the last six months, and one of the clinicians in the room asked, “Are the numbers finally going down, are we finally decreasing new infections?” The answer was “No, not yet, not based off our numbers at this facility.” As the consultant, I had to somehow take this interaction and tell my team this is a long defeat, but it is a battle we are all going to keep fighting until the very end. Oh how I want to be able to write to you a wonderful post of all my wins and to tell you of my “victor’s stories.” That’s what we like to hear right? And I do have wins - days when the department runs smoothly and days when we successfully treat critically ill patients and manage to get them to the ICU. I even had one of my most challenging clinicians come up to me the other day and tell me how much he genuinely appreciated everything I was doing for them and the department. But I also have days when my department’s staffing is low, when the water doesn’t work at the hospital, when we are out of antibiotics, and a minibus rollover comes in with fifteen trauma patients. I have days when I cry in the hallway out of frustration, sadness, and anger. But oh how correct Sarah Groves was when she said nothing has provoked my passion more than those days when I almost admit defeat. Zack and I both feel this is clearly where the Lord has called me. It allows me to practice emergency medicine alongside three Malawian Emergency Medicine physicians. It allows me to serve the least of these within our community. There are multiple private and/or mission’s hospitals around but none which provide free care to adults, especially in emergency settings. Serving at the government hospital is challenging. It is stressful. It is ugly. I am very limited in my resources. It is a busy department full of really sick patients being cared for by people who have equally complicated and difficult lives. It’s messy, and it is hard to work here. Yet, I really can’t see myself anywhere else right now. Again, Sarah got it write when she sang, “It’s too heavy to carry and impossible to leave.” Now, we are at a crossroads. What is the next step? My fellowship is complete. Baby girl is on the way. I am gradually handing back some of the responsibilities and roles I have taken over in the department since my arrival in February. Now the question is: How do I return to the department? From a financial standpoint, Young Life has taken great care of us, but there are additional expenses as a physician I need to find some way to cover. For example, the continuation of my medical licensure in the states as well as my medical licensure here. During my young adult life I had the unique opportunity to be exposed to many different missions organizations and many different missionaries. One huge impression these experiences left me with was the reality that no matter how genuine and sincere our intentions are, we as humans need accountability. I desire to partner with a medical sending organization so I can find what Young Life has given Zack: training, mentorship, accountability, and vision. We have explored multiple possibilities over the last six months. Some of those included a partnership with a residency back in the states, a partnership with the College of Medicine here, and an application to SEED (the medical arm of the Peace Corps). One by one, those doors have closed… So here we are trying to figure out how I will return to work after maternity leave. The particular aspect that does make it more challenging is the reality that I am already located in Blantyre. So now, I am trying to find an organization that agrees with my decision to stay here and wants to partner with me in my efforts at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. For the next four months we are comfortable with the fact that we will be traveling to South Africa for delivery, settling our new baby girl into our Malawian home, then coming to see friends and family in the US in January. Any work I do here in that time will continue to be on a volunteer basis. So, we are praying for an answer by February 2020. If any of you have a lead, a friend, a contact, or a suggestion, we are all ears. I’ve been walking a while, so for this season I will sit and rest. We are laying our future on the altar. “I won’t pretend to know what’s next but what I have I’ve offered.” - Carly (and Sarah Groves)

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